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Other reviews by Bill Streett, MA
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Reviewed by Bill Streett, MA on Dec. 1, 2005
In our time, when city lights and pollution effectively seal out the night sky, it’s hard to imagine civilizations constructing buildings according to information based upon the stars. Recent archaeological evidence, however, suggests that ancient cities mirrored the formation of the stars and that the civilizations who built these cities were highly attuned to the movements of the heavens. One nighttime phenomenon they observed was the Precession of the Equinox, the occurrence whereby the constellations of the zodiac gradually rotate backward—”precess”—relative to the position of Earth. Although imperceptible year to year, over centuries one can observe the constellations rotating counterclockwise. Ancient cultures believed this plodding precession, taking hundreds of centuries to complete a full cycle, correlated with the rise and fall of civilizations, from golden ages of enlightenment to dark ages of ignorance and barbarism.
Centering on this precession phenomenon, Lost Star of Myth and Time is fueled by a series of profound questions: What accounts for the precession? Does social history occur in cycles or in a linear sequence of increasing progress? Is there any truth to the mythic concept of a Great Age, a time when peace and wisdom prevailed? And finally, is there a connection between the precession and the evolution of consciousness on Earth?
Lost Starsuggests that the prevailing theory explaining the precession is problematic and messy, fraught with strange and obscure calculations. The established theory, the “lunisolar theory,” says that the phenomenon occurs due to a gravitational pull on the Earth from the Sun and Moon. But making this theory fit the observed event requires complex, improvised equations. Author Walter Cruttenden suggests a simpler alternative to the popular explanation: Our sun is part of a binary, “two-star” system that pulls the solar system in an elliptical orbit. This two-star hypothesis provides a more elegant, economical explanation to the precession and is not without precedent. Ancient civilizations postu-lated that our Sun has a twin, a neighboring star in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Cruttenden acknowledges that the twin-star hypothesis has its problems. If such a star exists, why haven’t we found it by now? Moreover, would our solar system’s orbit with a twin star in fact account for the cyclical rise and fall of civilizations? These are difficult issues, yet Cruttenden admirably addresses these concerns rather than bypassing them.
Beyond tackling a thorny issue in astronomy, Lost Star attempts to wed the precession with questions of spiritual importance: Where have we come from, and where are we going? Cruttenden suggests that the precession is intimately connected to the cyclical progression of time, the major rise and fall of cultures across the globe. Whether one consults the various ages known to the Greeks or the yugas of Vedic thought, ancient cultures shared a sense of seasons of history, golden times of enlightenment and dark times of ignorance. According to Indian, Mayan, and Greek calendar systems, we are collectively in a time of increasing light and ascending consciousness that began with the European Renaissance. According to these systems, our current age is characterized by increasing technological advancement and mastery over the material world.
Cruttenden succeeds at demonstrating to the reader how we are often trapped by the perception of our own prevailing attitudes. We tend to see human history as progressive rather than cyclic—although recent archaeological evidence suggests our frame of reference is distorted. We assume the prevailing theory of precession is correct, in part, because the great names in science have endorsed its plausibility, but the current theory is burdened by unfounded assumptions and anomalies. The accuracy of Cruttenden’s twin-star hypothesis notwithstanding, Lost Star of Myth and Time is a worthy read because it allows us to see the lenses through which we view our world. The book’s bigger gamble, the legitimacy of the twin-star hypothesis and its correlation with the cycles of civilization, would shatter old worldviews and reveal new ones.
A companion DVD to Lost Star, the award-winning PBS documentary The Great Year, provides a wonderful visual summary of the concepts in Cruttenden’s book. The book allows one to fully grasp the material, while the DVD brings the abstract concepts fully into the sphere of one’s imagination.